The secretary of state’s allegations of forced deportations is “poor quality Western disinformation,” Moscow said
Moscow has dismissed American claims that it forced up to 1.6 million Ukrainians to move to Russia, was confiscating Ukrainian identification documents, and issuing Russian passports instead.
The accusations, which were made by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday, are “poor quality Western disinformation,” the Russian embassy in Washington said.
The top US diplomat accused Russia of abusing Ukrainian citizens in various ways. He cited estimates by sources that “indicate that Russian authorities have interrogated, detained, and forcibly deported [to Russia] between 900,000 and 1.6 million Ukrainian citizens, including 260,000 children.”
He was apparently referring to the evacuation of civilians from Eastern Ukraine and Donbass republics. Hundreds of thousands of people fled to Russia before and during the ongoing military conflict. Kiev claimed that those refugees were Russian “hostages.”
Blinken further claimed that Russian forces were “separating families, in an apparent effort to change the demographic makeup of parts of Ukraine.”
Moscow has offered Ukrainian citizens a simplified path to Russian citizenship, should they want it. Initially only residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, which Russia recognized as sovereign states in February, were eligible for the scheme, but it was later extended to all Ukrainians.
The US also claimed that Russia was “deliberately separating Ukrainian children from their parents and abducting others from orphanages before putting them up for adoption inside Russia.” Blinken cited “eyewitnesses, survivors, and Ukraine’s General Prosecutor” as his source for these and other serious accusations.
Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, commented on Blinken’s remarks, suggesting that “a case like this must have been described” somewhere in a medical encyclopedia.
When she discussed the allegations on Thursday on Russian TV, she said they were meant for consumption by a US audience. Blinken’s claims were as “absurd” as Washington’s “mantra” that Russian President Vladimir Putin had imposed “a tax” and driven American gas prices up, she added.
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.